So, we’ve been under a Covid-19 lockdown here in Antigua since midnight on April 2nd. Under lockdown, essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations are only open from 8am to 12 noon. Gatherings of more than 2 people are banned. No recreational sailing is allowed, and boats aren’t allowed to move between anchorages. The coastguard patrols at least once a day, counting boats and making sure we aren’t moving around. They’ve been very polite and professional! Antigua has 15 confirmed cases of Covid-19, but they haven’t tested many people yet, because tests have to be sent to Trinidad to be processed.
The day before lockdown, Sanitas, along with several other American and Canadian cruising sailboats, moved to an isolated anchorage far from towns and civilization to wait it all out far from the drama and the busybodies in the popular harbors, lol. 🤣In the local island slang, the hashtag “Tap ah you yard” is trending. It means “Stay in your yard” and is similar to the “Stay home, Save lives” hashtags that I see on social media posts of my friends back in the states. It’s tough – with most businesses closed and all tourism shut down, many islanders aren’t getting paid and don’t have enough money to buy groceries for a family for a week. And not all islanders have comfy homes to hide out in – no air conditioning, cisterns for water, no unlimited WiFi. So even though Sanitas is starting to feel very tiny, we are grateful to have solar power, a low-capacity water desalinator, and plenty of canned goods! I’ve even managed a few impressive meals with all this extra time!
Everybody carries little countdown clocks in their brains these days. On Saturday, Capt. Mike and I celebrated 14 days since the last time we went ashore in Guadeloupe! This was a big milestone, since the number of Covid-19 cases on the French island hit epidemic proportions while we were there, and we didn’t want to inadvertently carry the virus to Antigua. So we’ve been carefully self-isolating from other cruisers and local Antiguans until we made it 14+ days without symptoms. 😀 We’re counting lockdown days now – this is Day 6 of a 7-day lockdown, but… the prime minister says to plan on several more weeks. So THAT countdown clock is a wee bit unrealible at the moment. It’s been 8 days since we last went ashore here in Antigua for groceries and to empty our trash. So we’re getting pretty close to 14 days of social isolation here as well!
There are at least 20 boats sharing this calm and peaceful anchorage with us. As we all approach 14+ days since we’ve been around any other people, we’re starting limited socializing amongst our own little isolated boat family. Our rules? Swimming and paddleboarding are totally allowed – you have to have some way to get off the boat and get a little bit of exercise, or you’ll go crazy! Plus, social distancing is built right in to those activities. If we need something from another boat, to pick up a spare part for a boat repair project, or to borrow some food, or to trade paperback books, you stay in the dinghy and hand stuff over. No one goes aboard another family’s boat. Everyone’s responsible for disinfecting the items they borrow or otherwise acquire. Even without the joys of unlimited high-speed internet, we’ve found a few ways to entertain ourselves….
At 5:30 in the evening, we have a virtual trivia game via the VHF radio. Each night has a different theme, and we run through the boat names in alphabetical order, each taking a turn to ask a question and to be the judge of the right answer. Sometimes, we all talk over each other on the radio, and sometimes we forget to key the mike, and sometimes we get laughing so hard, we need a few minutes for a time out. Right around the end of the game, we all enjoy sunset together from our separate cockpits.
Yesterday, Brian on Sava had the fantastic idea of a standup paddle board poker run. ⛵️♥️🤣 Here’s how it works: Over the course of the day at any time they’d like, each person paddles (or kayaks, or swims) to each of the seven boats in our little buddy boat group. At each boat, you can’t go aboard, of course, but you tie up alongside and get the chance to have a few minutes of conversation with someone who isn’t your spouse or your kid. What an amazing novel and fun experience! I had the chance to learn about my fellow sailors’ backgrounds, former professions, stories behind their boat names, goals for their cruising seasons, favorite recipes, and more! It was like speed dating by paddle board! Then each boat randomly chooses a card for you from a deck of cards. No need to touch it or carry it around in a soggy pocket – through the wonders of technology, we took a picture of each person with their card, and texted it to them. By sunset, every sailor had visited every boat, and the best 5-card poker hand was the winner. Ta-da! Have you realized the flaw in our grand plan yet? Because we played with seven different decks of cards, the final hands were VERY interesting. Capt. Mike had a pair of Kings of Clubs. That didn’t beat three Aces (two of which were Aces of Hearts 🤣) And the winning hand…. a flush of clubs, containing three 5’s, one 6, and one 10!
Tonight, we’re planning an acoustic guitar concert on Sava. Those of us anchored close enough will listen from our cockpits. Otherwise, we’ll dinghy or paddle board close enough to listen and will drop an anchor line. Something to look forward to in order to break up the long boat-bound days while still responsibly social distancing. Oh, and did I mention that an 8pm to 6am curfew doesn’t really bother us anyway? Cruisers are pretty much always back on the boat by sunset even in the best of times!
What are you doing to keep yourselves sane during social distancing and quarantine?